USE IT OR LOSE IT- Kegel Exercises


The Kegel  (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel) is the name for the exercise used to strengthen the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles that make up the pelvic floor.   These muscles act like a hammock that supports pelvic organs: the bladder, urethra, uterus, and bowel.

Why should women do Kegel exercises?

Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, pelvic surgery (such as a cesarean section), being overweight, and the normal effects of aging can result in weakening of the PC muscles.  When these pelvic floor muscles weaken, the pelvic organs can descend and bulge into the vagina, a condition referred to as pelvic organ prolapse.  This condition can be associated with significant pelvic pressure and discomfort, and can contribute to leakage of urine or feces.  The PC muscles are like any other muscles in the body—If they do not get a regular “work out” they become weak and eventually atrophy.  Vaginal atrophy is a common problem for menopausal women.  So, this really is a “use it or lose it” phenomenon!  Doing Kegel exercises regularly can help reduce the risk of urinary/bowel leakage and incontinence.  Kegel exercises can also aid in the prevention and treatment of pelvic organ prolapse.   These exercises are commonly recommended for pregnant women to strengthen the pelvic floor in preparation for the later stages of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth.  Additionally, maintaining strong pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises can increase sexual satisfaction and orgasmic capacity. 

How do I do Kegel exercises?

The first step is finding and isolating the PC muscles.  One of the simplest ways to do this is to sit on the toilet and begin to urinate.  Try to stop the flow of urine midstream.  The muscles you contract in order to stop the flow of urine are the pelvic floor muscles.  Repeat this action several times until you become familiar with the sensation of contracting and relaxing these PC muscles.    Another technique is to insert a finger inside your vagina and try to squeeze the surrounding muscles.  If you are doing this correctly, you will be able to feel your vagina tighten when you squeeze and release as you relax.    Once you have identified the PC muscles, you are ready to start your Kegel workout:

·      Empty your bladder and get into a comfortable position (sitting or lying down)

·      Contract your pelvic floor muscles

·      Hold the contraction for four seconds and then relax for four seconds

·      Repeat 10 times, three times per day

·      Work up to contracting and relaxing for 10 seconds at a time, three times per day

No special “attire” required

The beauty of Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere at any time.  You don’t need to belong to a gym or own any fancy outfits in order to do them, and you won’t even break a sweat!   Only you and your vagina will know you’re exercising!


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This entry was posted in Libido and Sexual Health, Menopause, Pregnancy, Women's Health by Kelli Young. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kelli Young

Kelli Young earned her degree in occupational therapy in 1992 from the University of Western Ontario. She is a registered occupational therapist with training, certification and expertise in the areas of Marriage and Family Therapy, and Sex Therapy. Since 1992 she has worked in the Eating Disorders Program at the Toronto General Hospital where she provides group, individual, family and couple therapy. She also has a private practice in Toronto. Kelli has a diploma in group psychotherapy, earned in 1998 from the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA) following a 2-year intensive training program. In 2005 she received a Master’s degree (M.Ed.) in Counseling Psychology from the University of Toronto. That same year, she earned a graduate certificate in Couple and Family Therapy Studies through the University of Guelph and the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT). Kelli has extensive training in sex therapy, including a practicum in the Sexual Medicine Counseling Unit at Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre. She has also completed the “Intensive Sex Therapy Training Institute” (2001); the “Advanced Training Program in Treating Female Sexual Dysfunction” (2002) and the “Sexual Attitudes Reassessment (SAR)” Institute (2006) through the University of Guelph. She has training and experience in a variety of couple and family therapy models, including Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, and Feminist Therapy, which are approaches that she draws from extensively in her work. She also utilizes principles and methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition to her work at the Toronto General Hospital and her private practice, Kelli has facilitated support groups at Sheena’s Place, a support centre for people with eating disorders. Since joining Sheena’s Place in 2002, she has facilitated groups on topics such as Talking about Sex; Food, Body Image, and Sexuality; Connecting as Couples; and Adult Support. She is a member of the Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association (CGPA), the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN). She is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and a Clinical Member of the Ontario Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT). Additionally, she is a Clinical Member of the Board of Examiners in Sex Therapy and Counseling in Ontario (BESTCO). Kelli also sits on the Canadian Advisory Board (Medical Advisor) of the Spinal Cord Tumor Association. Kelli holds a teaching appointment (rank of Lecturer) at the University of Toronto, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine. Kelli is the recipient of several teaching awards. Most recently she received the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy 2011 Community Partners Award for “Outstanding Significant Contributions during 2010-2011”. Kelli and her husband reside in Toronto with their two teenage daughters.

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